Mass protest makes a return

By Meg Hill

After months of quiet the Melbourne CBD ws filled with tens of thousands of protestors on Saturday June 6, in a local iteration of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the world. 

The rally, organised by the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), was titled Stop Black Deaths in Custody – Justice for George Floyd

It was called in the wake of the now infamous murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the US. WAR organisers stated their solidarity with protesters in the US, and their objective of protesting similar injustices in Australia.

“This is a global movement, and this is an issue that Australia is a part of too. When the footage emerged of the murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers, as he desperately pleaded ‘I can’t breathe’, we were all horrified and outraged, but not surprised,” the organisers wrote in The Saturday Paper.

“We were immediately reminded of the cries of “I can’t breathe” that Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr made as he had the life crushed out of him by officers in Sydney’s Long Bay prison. We thought of Aunty Tanya Day, of Ray Thomas Jr, of Joyce Clarke, of Ms Dhu, of Kumanjayi Walker, of Veronica Nelson and of far too many others.”

Volunteers at the rally handed out over 55,000 PPE masks and 55,000 bottles of hand sanitiser. More than 500 people volunteered to help. 

The rally began at the steps of Parliament at 2pm and marched to the Flinders St intersection, where tens of thousands stayed until it was dark.

The staging of the protests continues to divide the community amid the state government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures. 

At the time of publishing the July edition of CBD News, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had reported that only three new cases had since been linked to the event and that there was no evidence to suggest it was responsible for recent spikes in Victoria. 

“If you attended the Black Lives Matter march in the city on Saturday, June 6 there is currently no requirement to quarantine or get tested if you do not have symptoms,” Prof Brett Sutton said. “However, should you develop any symptoms, no matter how mild, it is critically important that you get tested.” •

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